McLaughlin: Whincup made me a better race car driver

Scott McLaughlin has paid tribute to Jamie Whincup following the latter's retirement announcement. Pic: / Dirk Klynsmith

SCOTT McLaughlin has paid tribute to Jamie Whincup in the wake of the seven-time Supercars Champion’s announcement that he will retire from full-time racing at the end of 2021.

Whincup had already sealed four titles prior to McLaughlin’s arrival in the championship full-time in 2013, and the latter’s rapid rise brought the two into regular battle.

Most memorably, the pair indulged in a fierce duel for second place in the twilight Saturday race at the 2014 Clipsal 500 Adelaide.

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The pair battled head-to-head for the 2017 title, finally claimed by Whincup in the final laps of the season finale in Newcastle after one of the most dramatic races in championship history.

Reflecting on their rivalry, McLaughlin paid Whincup a supreme compliment.

“I call him the GOAT,” McLaughlin told the Marshall Pruett Podcast, the acronym short for ‘Greatest Of All Time’.

“He’s a guy that I was very privileged to race (against) in his prime, at the absolute peak of his career and go toe-to-toe with him.

“I sent him a text the other day saying ‘good luck with everything; you made me a better race car driver.’

“It was cool to have a little bit of banter back and forth between the two of us.

“To have that respect, that’s what we’ve always had between me and Jamie. He’s a fierce rival, he pushes you to no end but he’s very respectful as well. Those are the battles that you most enjoy.”

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McLaughlin also feels the championship will miss Whincup’s star power and looks forward to seeing which young stars step up to fill the void.

“Supercars is going to miss someone like that,” he said.

“As you say, he’s (got) legend status in regard to motorsport, but people in other sporting circles know who he is.

We analyse Triple Eight’s bombshell announcements in the latest episode of the V8 Sleuth Podcast – listen to it in the player below!

“What I’m wanting to see in the category is who’s the next person that’s gonna step up and take over that.

“The sport’s going to need an identity, a face for the drivers and especially young people coming up to get young fans.

“We’ve certainly lost that a little bit with Jamie, and hopefully someone steps up.”

Will Dale is V8 Sleuth's Head of Content - Digital. He began his media career as a breakfast radio newsreader before joining SPEED TV Australia and FOX SPORTS Australia in 2012 as its Digital Editorial Lead - Motorsport, covering all forms of motorsport both in Australia and internationally. He became part of the V8 Sleuth team in 2018.